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South China sea to be area of cooperation, Philippine foreign secretary says
2005-03-01 07:24:08 XinhuaEnglish

BEIJING, March 1(Xinhuanet)-- The Philippines and China have agreed to turn the south China Sea into an area of cooperation, peace and development, said the visiting Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo, Monday.

"The disputes and conflicts are all over now," said Romulo, whois on a three-day official visit to China."The South China Sea, instead of a regional flash point, has been transformed into an area of cooperation, peace and development."

"This refers not only to China and the Philippines, but also others which claim the south China Sea territory," said Romulo.

China has expressed its willingness to discuss exploring south China Sea oil and gas on the basis of mutual respect, equality andreciprocity.

Oil companies in China and the Philippines signed an agreement on energy exploration in the Nansha Islands on which both sides agreed to research ocean earthquakes and evaluate oil resources indisputed waters.

"The joint exploration was only limited to experts a decade ago,and we had some conflicts and disputes then," said Romulo.

"Now we have joint marine assessment undertaking between the two countries, on top of that we can see the relationship has never been as healthy as now," said Romulo who took the post of Philippine foreign secretary last August.

With bilateral relations at the high point, Romulo said China is the first foreign country to which Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo made the state visit last September after her inauguration.

Besides, Chinese President Hu Jintao is scheduled to pay a state visit to Manila from April 26 to 28 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of China-Philippines diplomatic relations, said Romulo.

Romulo stressed the priority of economic development in the region, saying"if there are conflicts, whether in south China sea,Korean peninsula or Taiwan strait, it is important for the countries in the region to bind together to have meaningful dialogue in the diplomacy."

"If we can preserve peace in the region, therefore we can get on with economic development," Romulo said.

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